Gary Tim Baker was born on July 13, 1938 in Sedan, Kansas to John D. and Mamie Marie (Mills) Baker. This is where he grew up and attended school, graduating high school with the class of 1956. When he was 12 years old, Gary worked for a rancher, Floyd Mills where he picked up rocks behind a team of horses. Later he worked for Usher’s Phillip’s 66 in Sedan. After high school, Gary attended Independence Junior College for a year and played football. While there, he had a delivery route for the Independence Daily Paper
Following his family, Gary moved to Harper, Kansas and met Mary Helen Matlock. After getting out of basic training for the Army National Guard, the two were married on July 30, 1961 at the Harper Methodist Church. The couple were blessed with two boys, Jerry Joseph and James Andrew “Jamie.” Gary worked a few jobs before getting a full-time position at the local guard unit: Esping Construction, R&E Construction, Mid Continent Oilfield Supply, and then partnered in Sneary-Baker Construction.
Enlisting in the Kansas Army National Guard on October 15, 1960, Gary went to basic and advanced training from January 8, 1961 to July 7, 1961, during which time he qualified as a sharpshooter with a rifle. Eventually given a full-time position with the National Guard unit in Harper, Gary had a career with years of dedication to his state and country. While serving as a combat engineer, he was also a Pioneer, Combat Construction Specialist, Heavy Engineer Equipment Operator, and Squad Leader of a Engineer Squad. After a reorganization of his unit, Gary served as a Squad Leader in the Medium Truck Squad, Platoon Sergeant of the Light-Medium Truck Platoon, Company Supply Sergeant, and Motor Sergeant. Another reorganization of his unit, Gary was assigned Platoon Sergeant of the Anti-Armor Platoon. After his promotion, Gary was transferred to the unit in Wellington to serve as their First Sergeant. Receiving numerous hours of training and certifications in many areas and different equipment, Gary was also decorated with the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with gold and bronze hourglasses, Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Advanced device, Army Service Ribbon, Kansas State Service Medal with 2 sunflower devices, National Defense Service Medal, and Army National Guard Recruiter Badge. Gary received his Honorable Discharge upon retirement on October 14, 1993 with 33 years of service.
Not quite ready to slow down, Gary then worked for Blanchat Manufacturing, Wedman Ford, and Ricke’s True Value. He enjoyed working on cars and pickups. Gary painted several cars for his son, Jerry and other special friends. He was a talented woodworker, building furniture.
Gary served in many ways throughout his life. He was Harper Mayor from 1987 to 1993 and 1995 to 1997. Prior to that he was a council member from 1966 to 1967 and 1973 to 1993. Gary was also a volunteer on the Harper Fire Department from 1967 to 1992. He was a member of the Harper Masonic Lodge #206 and Order of Eastern Star for over 50 years as well as a member of the American Legion Jeff Long Post 104.
After a long battle with his health and at 84 years old, Gary passed away on January 10, 2023 at the Attica Long Term Care Facility. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mamie Baker; brothers, Gene and Tommy Baker; and sisters, Lena May Houser and Linda Coykendall. Gary is survived by his wife, Mary Helen Baker of the home; sons, Jerry Baker (Kelly) of Harper and Jamie Baker (Jose Reyes) of Long Beach, California; grandchildren, Michael Baker of Danville and Micaela Webster (Jordan) of Medicine Lodge; granddaughter, Lila Jo Webster; brother-in-law, Jon Coykendall of Rago; sister-in-law, Kathleen Baker of Snyder, Texas; many nieces and nephews; other relatives and friends.
Memorial Service was 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at the Harper United Methodist Church with Pastor Bruce Wilson officiating. Inurnment followed at the Harper Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Harper UMC, American Legion Jeff Long Post 104, or Harper Historical Society and can be sent in care of Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 613 W 14th St ~ Harper, Kansas 67058 Online condolences may be left at www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com